TALES FROM THE BULLY PULPIT: Vol. 1

Benito Cereno, Author, Graeme MacDonald, Illustrator . Image Comics $6.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-58240-393-9

In the opening pages of this whimsical graphic novelette, President Theodore Roosevelt hijacks H.G. Wells's time machine and uses it to travel to the year 2000, where he meets the ghost of Thomas Edison. After Edison makes improvements on the time machine so it can journey through space as well, Roosevelt christens the vehicle "The Bully Pulpit." Then the two head to Argentina circa 2008 (depicted as ludicrously scientifically advanced) only to discover that the nation is now ruled by Adolf Hitler's look-alike and purported descendant, Jorge Hitler, who intends to conquer the inhabitants of the planet Mars. Co-creators Cereno and MacDonald continually surprise readers with a succession of fanciful story ideas, parodying the clichés of fantastic fiction. The trompe-l'oeil cover, designed to imitate a badly damaged copy of an old comic, is especially inventive. No attempt is made at serious, realistic characterizations: Roosevelt and Edison are caricatured, iconic prototypes for the archetypal sci-fi action hero and genius scientist. MacDonald's lighthearted, cartoony art even depicts Roosevelt as a stereotypically brawny superhero. Only Cereno's references to Nazi death camps on Mars are out of place amid all this frivolity. The lack of thematic depth prevents the book from being more than an entertaining diversion, but it's an exceedingly smart and funny one. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/08/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
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